Sydney-based startup Recyclesmart has been tacking hard-to-recycle waste since 2019, one plastic bag at a time. Described as “Uber for rubbish”, the initiative collects e-waste, batteries and other bits that can’t go in your regular yellow bin.

The service is more important than ever following the high-profile collapse of Redcycle, and the NSW EPA consequently ordering Coles and Woolworths to dump 5200 tonnes of soft plastic into landfill. Recyclesmart has just partnered with two-year-old Victorian company APR Plastics to help solve the ongoing problem in many Australian households: what to do with your scrunchable plastics.

Working with five Sydney councils to begin with, Recyclesmart hopes to reduce the amount of soft plastics being sent to landfill for more than half a million Australians. If you live in the Inner West, Waverley, Randwick, Penrith or Burwood council areas you can book a soft plastics pick-up for free. This means you can confidently dispose of bread bags, bubble wrap, cereal box liners, packets from lollies, chocolates and chips, resealable bags, grocery bags, plastic film and more.

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“We’re not solving the national soft plastics crisis, but at Recyclesmart, we’re all about testing new solutions quickly and having an impact, like the 400 tonnes of resources we have kept in circulation to date,” says Giorgio Baracchi, CEO and co-founder of Recyclesmart. “Also, we believe that speed is of paramount importance to ensure people don’t lose the healthy habit of recycling their soft plastics, so we wanted to act fast.”

Once the waste is collected, it will be taken to the APR Plastics facility in Victoria. It is then shredded and fed into a Biofabrik WASTX pyrolysis machine; the self-sufficient and zero-waste system is the first of its kind in Australia. Manufactured in Germany, the machine breaks down plastic material at high temperatures to convert to feedstock oil. The feedstock oil is then sent to Viva Energy’s Geelong refinery for further processing. From here it is then turned into resin, which enables it to be turned back into food-grade plastic packaging again.

According to Darren Thorpe, managing director of APR Plastics, the process of transforming “plastics to oil” has been successfully used in Europe for 10 years. “It’s time for Australia to catch up and turn the 70 billion pieces of soft scrunchable plastics used each year into a huge opportunity and build a circular economy,” he says.

The end goal is to make the soft plastics recycling service available to all Recyclesmart users as soon as possible.
Visit the Recyclesmart website for more information on what they collect or to book a pick-up.

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